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Stories by Argyleshirelass
Growing up in the Highlands


Every summer I would visit my uncle Roddy and spend the most wonderful time on the Island  of Kerrera. The island was across the water from Oban.

Every morning after breakfast I would help feed the pigs, chickens, and ducks. Uncle Roddy also had two swans and sometimes we would have a few more guests like the sheep and Highland cattle.

The Highland cow is a very gentle animal, their coat is reddish brown and the hair hangs down over their face. Underneath the hair two of the most beautiful big brown eyes. There was one in particular I called Daisy. Every morning whan I was feeding the pigs  she would nudge her way past the other animals to get to me. Daisy would then push her head under my arm and munch on my jumper, she was very loving and full of mischief. Sometimes she would move my bucket of oats from one place to another and if I dare bend over she would bump me with her head.

Daisy would lick my face all over and sometimes she would munch on my pigtails, in a way she was just like a wee child and I loved her.

After I fed the animals I would take a blanket and auntie Sheila would pack a wee lunch for me which was scones (biscuits) only shaped like triangle and cheese, the water I would get from the burn (stream). One hill in particular that I liked, Uncle Roddy called it piper hill. Many years ago Clan pipers would climb the hill and play especially before battle. This hill always felt magical. I would spread my blanket down on the grass lay down and close my eyes. Think of the pipers, and if you listen real hard you can hear  the pipers play.

Sometimes I would have goose bumps all over when  I heard them play.

In the evening I would walk two miles to the next farm for milk and butter. The farmer and his wife was very nice, they would always have nice fresh scones and home made jam and a big glass of milk for me. The farmer would walk me half way home and I would walk the rest of the way myself. 

One night I pretended that I was on a mission for the wee fairy queen, I was to bring back to the castle the crown of Scotland. All Scottish and Irish people believe in fairies and fairy rings. Fairy rings are small rings formed with stones, they are found all over Scotland and Ireland. 

On my way home I picked up the small frogs and pretended they were guards helping to protect the crown. When I arrived home uncle Roddy took the milk and butter and I would go upstairs and take a bath and get ready for bed.

I remembered I still had my wee frogs and it had turned cold outside I did not want to put them outside so I figured that seeing hauntie Sheila had such a big bed I would put them at the bottom of her bed to keep warm. 

I had just gone to sleep when I awoke to this terrible screem, it sounded like the Banshee. How was I suposed to know hauntie Sheila was afraid of frogs. "Ro's-Muir (Rosemary) come down stairs" I jumped out of bed and went down stairs. There stood my hauntie Sheila, hair almost touching the ground and the first thing thing that came to mind was (witch.) That is what hauntie  looked like all dressed up in her flannel night gown and her big coat of hair hanging all over her face. If you looked real close you would see this wee vain above her nose that seemed to beet when she was upset. "What did you think you were doing lass that you thought you could put those ugly wee beasties in my bed.'' Uncle Roddy was standing behind her. He kept waving his arms from side to side as if trying to tell me something but I did not know what.

"Well lass what do you have to say for yourself" Oh my I thought "well hauntie Sheila" I said, now you have to remember, that I am a Highlander, born and raised in Scotland and we speak a wee bit different. "Well hauntie Sheila" said I "I was walking home from the farm and those poor wee beasties were sitting on the side of the path all cold and wet. I stopped and asked them if they were alright, and the poor wee beasties asked if they could jump inside my pocket to stay warm just for a wee while. So hauntie I lifted them up and put them inside my big pocket and the truth of the matter is I forgot all about them till after my bath. I thought that seeing you have a great big bed that you would not mind if they shared the bottom of the bed with you."

Hauntie Sheila just looked at me, she was standing with her hands on her hips and her face was real funny like she was trying to say something and it would not come out. Maybe I should have told her that the wee frogs wanted to sleep with her, it would make her feel a wee bit better,. So I said "oh hauntie Sheila the wee frogs wanted to sleep with you because you are a very kind and loving  hauntie and I love you very much." Well that did it, hauntie Sheila burst into a fit of laughing. I thought she was going to die, she laughed so hard it was hard for her to catch her breath."Oh gaolach" (darling) she said "what a wee story teller you you are, that is the best I have heard in a long time Ro's-Muir (Rosemary).Go on up to bed now and your uncle Roddy will make a wee bed by the fire for them, off to bed with ye." I was feeling very lucky, I just knew deep down in my heart the wee fairies had something to do with this. We all know they take real good care of the animals and do not like for anyone to harm them.  

Uncle Roddy picked me up and gave me a great big hug. I whispered in his ear "what were you trying to tell me" uncle Roddy looked at me just smiled "well gaoloch (darling) two of your wee frogs were down my back and I was trying to get them out." Well now it was my turn , I laughed so hard tears ran down my face. "Oh uncle Roddy you are my best uncle ever" and I gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Uncle Roddy carried me upstairs  and tucked me into bed. When he went down stairs I jumped out of bed and ran over to the window. Hauntie Sheila had made me a wee seat as she knew I loved to look out at the stars at night. On this night I thought maybe I would be lucky enough to see the wee fairy that made hauntie Sheila laugh and thank her.

A few days I would be leaving the Island, and all the animals and of course the wee fairy that made hauntie Sheila laugh. Leaving my hauntie  and uncle was the part I dreaded most. Next summer I would be back and that was going to seem like forever.

Rosemary MacLean Owens


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